Sure, I had a nice shiny piece of paper that implied I was going to be a great marketing associate, but I wasn’t convinced. For starters, being an impactful member of a marketing team takes actually having a job, which, at the time, I was lacking.
My mom’s unofficial nickname is the Craigslist Queen. She loves Craigslist. Her favorite weekend hobby is picking up random items off the side of the road, redoing them, and then selling them on the nifty site for a profit. Naturally, I commenced my job search by perusing the Marketing/PR tab on the Craigslist’s "help wanted" section. Like mother, like daughter, right?
About a week into my job hunt, I came across a link: “Collision Center Seeking Marketing Representative.” Well, 'Marketing Representative' sounded fitting for me, but I knew nothing about cars. When I say nothing, I mean nothing! My only experience with a car up until that point was a hand-me-down station wagon my grandparents had passed down that died within six months. The closest thing I had come to collision repair was my father taking the toilet plunger out of our bathroom to try and get an old dent out of my driver side door.
I sent my resume within ten minutes of seeing the post. It never concerned me that I had virtually no knowledge of the industry. I’d always been up for a challenge, and taking on this job would be just that: a challenge to learn something new. The only criteria I had about where I began my career was this: Will I be marketing a product, service, or company that I would be comfortable personally endorsing? If I was going to be responsible for marketing a brand, it had to be one that I believed was actually helping its customers, not trying to rip them off.
Checking off that main concern of working for a reputable company was easy with H&V. Fortunately for me--but unfortunately for him--my father is a frequent visitor to our Troy, NY facility. He has bad luck with opening car doors into random objects and playing bumper cars in the Dunkin Donuts drive through. So yes, his insurance may have increased, but in turn, he was able to ensure me that I would be working with a good company.
Fast forward almost a year and I could not be happier with my decision to work in the Collision Repair Industry. I have been able to contribute greatly to our social media pages, website, customer and insurance company relationships, event planning and more! I have learned more than I ever thought I would know about cars and have a continuous urge to learn more.
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to meet Petra Schroeder, the 2016 chair of Women’s Industry Network. If my newfound passion for the collision repair industry wasn’t solidified before, WIN definitely did the trick. WIN is a network of mostly women and some men in the male-dominated collision industry that provide support, encouragement, and opportunities for one another.
My bosses at H&V Collision Center were on board from the start. In the beginning of May, I was sent down to Tampa, FL WIN’s Annual Conference as a first year attendee. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was determined to make as much out of this experience as I could. Here’s what I did:
Upon arriving at the conference, I approached the first table I saw and introduced myself. I was only there for three days, so of course I wasn’t wasting any time meeting new people! This was the common theme every day during the conference. I made a point to sit with different people at all meals, trade business cards with virtually every attendee I spoke with, and make as many connections as I could.
Another opportunity I took advantage of was asking questions of all of the wonderful presenters. The conference is packed with informative seminars. Being the “Curious George” that I am, I stood up after almost every single presenter to ask additional questions. Not only did this benefit me, but it benefited others in the room. I was determined to come home with as much feedback as possible, and who better to get that from than seasoned professionals in the collision industry?
Last, but not least, I took the time at my first WIN Conference to join their committees. In my opinion, the best way to take advantage of being part of a network is to become as involved as possible. I asked questions about the different committees and read the descriptions thoroughly. I then chose to be part of four--yes, FOUR--committees. Okay, I may have gone overboard, but I recommend at least joining one or two. My mindset was to pick two committees that I was confident I could make an impact in and two committees that I thought I could learn new skills from.
My experience at the WIN 2016 Educational Conference was indescribable. I was able to meet numerous other women and men who deal with the same pleasures and challenges that I go through every day in the workplace. WIN has refreshed my confidence, passion, and drive for greatness in my career. Needless to say, if the collision repair industry becomes your path like it has mine, WIN might be the right move for you!